On Meat & Onions and Castles on Lakes: Finding Trakai Castle, Lithuania

So I decided it was about time to stop procrastinating. It's been forever since I've posted anything new. Busy? Yes. Lazy? The laziest. So this post will be short. But for your viewing pleasure, there are still photos. Because I know that's the only thing half of you ever look at, anyway. You're welcome. Moving on. I don't know about you, but I love me a good castle. So let's talk castles. Let's talk castles in the middle of lakes. Let's talk castles in the middle of lakes in Lithuania. Let's talk about Trakai. Let's talk about Trakai because it's awesome. And because it has one of the most obscure coats of arms I've ever seen. I mean, really? Probably the sexiest dude of all dudes, ever. So anyway, here I was, busy couchsurfing in Vilnius with the most awesome of awesome couchsurfers ever - Raminta. I think I introduced her in my last post. Anyway, she was the one who told me how to find Trakai, and so one morning I searched for the train and off I went. The train rushes east and the landscape reminds me of Siberia. Old wooden houses interspersed with modern brick homes... The trees are sparse with just one or two leaves still clinging to frozen branches. A river, and children playing nearby. The young Lithuanian couple ahead of me sneak a kiss through the crack in the seats. I turn to my left. Nope, no sexy Lithuanian man to kiss. Whatever. I'll makeout with myself later. The train drops me off near the lake, but there's no castle in sight. Realizing that my Korean, French, and German skills probably aren't going to help me here, I keep my mouth shut and begin to follow a trail along the edge of the lake, crossing my fingers that it will spit me out somewhere near where I'm hoping to go. Whatever, I'm exploring. Success! Thirty minutes of walking took me right to the castle. What a beaut!

I thought an aerial photo might help to get an idea of how spectacular this place is... obviously I didn't take this myself. Credit to Johnny Ward at onestep4ward.com :)

After walking around the castle grounds with my jaw on the ground (it really is a spectacular spot) I stopped at a tiny little wooden restaurant on the shores of the lake for an afternoon snack. With minor difficulty to which I will never from this point onward ever admit, I managed to order a Kibinas and a cider. I dug into this thing with my fork and knife. I mean, given the option... wouldn't you? It all seemed fine until I looked to the Russians on my left - who hadn't even touched their utensils and had their pastries wrapped like babies in golden yellow napkins and were shoving them into their faces like hotdogs. If there's one thing I'm good at, it's Sloppy Imitation. I mean I'm really, really good at it. IMG_4131 I fling my fork and knife to the side and shove the rest of this golden napkin swathed infant into my face like a champion - two bites and baby's gone. Puff pastry filled with hot meat and onions - a Lithuanian staple, a local Karaite pork pastry. Mm hmm. Probably great for my waistline, too. Dropping the napkin to my plate, I slurp back some of my 10.5% Lithuanian cider. I proudly glance to my left, seeking Russian approval. In the form of a crumb-smirk from a 90 year-old gent, I got it. I wore my pastry moustache for 5 complete minutes after that, for effect.